2 Timothy 3:14-17
14 But you remain in what you learned and feel confident, knowing from whom you have learned it, 15 and that from childhood, you have known the Sacred Writings, the things that are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching, for rebuke, for improvement, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God should be fully qualified, for completing every good work.
It should be noted up front that 1 and 2 Timothy were PERSONAL letters written to Timothy for encouragement in his calling as an evangelist. What is interesting is that we (Christians) tend to think that these letters where written to US, but they were written to Timothy, not us. They were written for us so that we could learn from them.
Most comments about this passage in the Greek text revolve around what πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος (all Scripture is God-breathed), but I want to focus on the phrase ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος (the man/person of God).
The expression “the man of God” is scarce throughout the NT. In fact, it is only used in the singular twice (1 Timothy 6:11 and 2 Timothy 3:17) and in the plural once (2 Peter 1:21). Of the two singular expressions, 1 Timothy 6:11 refers to Timothy and it does not have the article. Therefore technically, ὦ ἄνθρωπε θεοῦ (O man of God) could not be rendered as “O THE man of God”. The 2nd singular expression in 2 Timothy 3:17, on the other hand, has the article and can be rendered “the man of God”. This expression could be directly to Timothy alone, but it also could be a general expression for all of “God’s people” which included Timothy. Last but not least, the plural expression in 2 Peter 1:21 refers to OT prophets and is not articular. Thus it is rendered as “men of God”. Of these three, we want to focus on the articular expression found in 2 Timothy 3:17.
In the OT, this Hebraic expression was used mostly with Moses and the Prophets.
I have often expressed in my NT teaching that the phrase “the man of God” is not a NT expression. Of course, I’m now corrected. But I will stand by the concept that “the man of God” is not some expression that should be “graced” upon people by people. In my lifetime, I have seen this expression used as a title given to preachers throughout Churches to elevate their status before the people. Often, the adjective “great” is added to the title to prop up the person further in eyes of the congregation. This somehow implies that “the man of God” stands above/over the rest of the congregation. Of course that concept of separation between ministers and the people is foreign in the NT as all Christians are ministers in some way or the other. Also, the concept of leaders and people being separated is also foreign to the NT text (1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). Paul and the other letter writers ALWAYS address their letters to whole congregations/assemblies which included the leaders and not just to leaders. The exception of course is for personal letters directed to Titus, Philemon, and here, Timothy.
With all of that said, Scripture has a way of “putting us all in our proper place”. Thus, we have come to our Greek expression ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος (the man/person of God).
As I’ve stated above, this is the only time that the definite article is included with the expression in the NT. This is due to the probable fact that this expression included all ministers/servers as a general expression. This would have included Timothy, and not necessarily just Timothy.
As I’ve stated in many of my blogs, in Greek, if an author wants to express the importance of something, they place that word or phrase first. So it is here. If we render ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος as indicated in word order, it would be translated as “the of God man/person”. Of course that is not proper English, so we render it “the man/person of God” or “God’s man/person”. What does all of this mean? It means that no man/person is before God. Paul drives that point home with Timothy just by his word order. It is God who makes the man/person who he is. Not the man/person himself, and certainly not other people.
So, if you want to have the title “the man/person of God”, make sure you and everyone else understands the title according to its proper place. God is first, then man. God is what makes you who you are. You are not exalted above everyone else. Everyone else outranks you as you are a server to everyone, including the lowest of the low. We don’t have time to argue nor should we argue τίς μείζων (who is greatest?).
33 And they came to Capernaum. And after coming in the house, he asked them, “Why were you discussing on the road?” 34 But they were keeping silent; for they had been arguing to one another on the road “who is greatest”. 35 And after sitting down, he summoned the twelve and says to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he will be last of all and a servant of all.” 36 And taking a child, he placed it in the middle of them and after embracing it, he said to them, 37 “Whoever may receive one such as a child on the basis of my name, receives me; and whoever may receive me, he doesn’t receive me, but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37
“The man/person of God” is “the server of all” That person is “the of God man”!